Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, birds are singing and the horses are shedding their winter coats. Our wheelbarrow has been filled to the brim from their coats as we groom.
Horses enjoy being groomed. A handy grooming tool is a shedding blade, and it has a dual purpose. Use the toothed edge when the horse is letting go of their winter coat. The birds will use some of this hair to line their nests. After the horse has shed its winter coat, use the smooth edge of the shedding blade to remove sweat and excess water from spraying or sponging your horse before you put your horse up from riding.
How does a horse KNOW when to release their winter coat? Light! When the days become longer, with more light than darkness, this communicates to the horse a seasonal change, and the horses begins to shed. In the fall, when the days become shorter, this triggers in the horse another seasonal change, and they will begin to grow a suitable coat for this new upcoming season.
I quote, “Nature is made to conspire with Spirit to emancipate.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
What does emancipate mean? Some words that define “emancipate” are: liberate, set free, free, release, unshackle, unfetter, let go and untie. When simply observing a change of season in the life of horses, two life lessons stand out to me. When the horse releases their winter coat, the birds are free to use this release to build a nest that will house the hatching of eggs, growing of feathers and the development of wings. Another life lesson that nature teaches me is that Light has a voice. So does darkness.
Truly, “Nature is made to conspire with Spirit to emancipate.”
Grooming horses at Corral Connections is one of our first steps in building a relationship with a horse. We have a specific order to grooming in our barn. Our first action is to use a shedding blade or a curry comb, depending on the horse’s coat. This removes excess hair and or mud. Then we replace that tool with a stiff brush. The flicking of the wrist while using this tool lifts up dust from the horse’s hair. Next we move to a soft or finishing brush. After the horse’s body has been groomed by three specific tools, we gather up a small, soft brush and gently brush the horse’s face. There are specific strokes we use on this most delicate place. Above the eyes, inside the ears and on their muzzle are areas of gentle attention. They really enjoy you spending time with them in this way. Then we focus on the mane. At some barns the only tool used on the mane is a person’s fingers. I allow a soft brush or fingers like a comb. Standing to one side, by the flank, we reach to gather the horse’s tail in hand, and slide that hand down the tail below the tip of the tail bones, making a fist. When you brush the tail, you are putting the force of the strokes on her arm and not on the horse’s tail. Last, but not least, is using a hoof pick to clean out each hoof. This gives you a chance to observe the heel, frog, barb, white line, sole and wall of the hoof; removing mud, manure and pebbles before you tack up.
Here’s some advice from a horse, written from Ilan Shamir’s pen: “Take life’s hurdles in stride; Loosen the reins: Be free spirited; Keep the burrs from under your saddle; Carry your friends when they need it; Keep stable; Gallop to greatness!”